Jousting in Dungeons and Dragons

Hello all, today I am contemplating jousting and D&D. I am currently watching the Showtime series called ‘The Tudors’ . So far, I have thought that it is a solidly good show mixing entertainment and history well (and it seems everyone’s name is Thomas.) This series often shows young King Henry VIII at the jousting tournaments; which got me thinking. In all of the years playing D&D, I have only once had a character joust. (For the record it was a Living Arcanis module in which my Dwarven Paladin on a Dire Lion mount took third place.) However, it had the feeling of just being thrown in last minute and the rules were lacking.

How can this be? D&D, although fantasy, is heavily influenced with medieval history. It is also filled with frequent melee combat. Jousting is the quintessential medieval melee combat game; especially with the upper echelon of society, where most heroes and knights should belong. Jousting was so historically significant that when King Edward II banned all melee games in 1309, jousting was exempt.

So why is jousting not prevalent in D&D? Trask mentioned in a previous blog, Cavalry and Gaming , how it is difficult to have mounted combat in D&D. Maybe that is partially the reason. Though, jousting would not require the same overhead as the overall mounted combat rules do. It is contained to a small area (called the lists, list field, or tiltyard), not an entire battlefield. In fact, you would not even need a map to introduce this into your game. Maybe jousting isn’t prevalent because mounted combat isn’t prevalent and the characters don’t regularly have horses, lances, or mounted combat skills.

Regardless of the reason, to help revive the lost (or never found to begin with) art of the D&D “Hastilude” I have created some ‘work-in-progress’ rules for running a joust in D&D 3.5. Let me know what you all think, and especially if you try it out in your games (it shouldn’t take up too much time).

D&D Jousting (in the 3.5 D&D rule-set)

The Jouster must successfully make each check to progress to the next level. If any rolls are failed, the jousting progression stops there.

1. Each jouster roles a DC 10 ride check to maintain the mount in a straight aligned approach (Guiding with the knees but with a higher DC for the needed accuracy and quick start). If the jouster fails this roll, they will be off and their shot will be impossible to land.
2. Each jouster rolls an attack with their lance (two-handed melee reach weapon; though, while mounted, you can wield a lance with one hand).
3. Each jouster compares their attack roll against the targets flat-footed armor class. If it is a hit, the lance lands.
4. Each jouster compares the same attack roll against the targets standard armor class. If it is also a hit, the lance shatters, hitting solid and is not fully deflected by armor. The hit deals non-lethal charging lance damage (1d8 x3, double damage while charging).
5. If the lance blow was solid, the jouster receiving the hit must make both a DC 10 balance check and a DC [3 + damage dealt] ride check or be knocked from their mount (an additional 1d6 of falling damage).


Each step happens at the same time for each jouster. i.e., both jousters could get to the end and be knocked off their mount simultaneously.
Jousters get one attack using their full base attack. Iterative attacks are unused.
The Mounted Combat feat will not let the jouster negate the joust hit. However, it will give a +2 to all dice rolls (all dice; even attack and damage).
Ride-By Attack would give an extra +1 that stacks with the jousters Mounted Combat bonus.
Spirited Charge will deal triple lance damage normally
Power Attack cannot be used, as this is a game of skill, fortitude, and accuracy. The lance is not swung or lunged.
Personally, as a GM I would give some sort of moral bonus to riders who received a certain or special favor from a certain or special maiden. This is truly a role-playing element. But it was a traditional symbolic gesture that was performed and I feel an important part of the event.
The GM can design their own scoring system. Winners could progress up a ladder or bracket as they win. Or, points could be awarded based on how well a jouster does (i.e. 2 points for hit, 4 points for lance breakage, etc…).
Armor could be oiled-up to give a +2 bonus to armor class against a solid hit (the initial hit would not be affected). However, this would be cheating so the player should be prepared for some disguise checks, sleight of hand checks, bluff checks, and whatever else would come their way.

Let me know what you think,

Haaldaar – The Holy Knight of Haruspices



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.